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RACINE COUNTY — Former Wheatland Center School music teacher Zachary Wendt will spend the next two years in prison after he agreed to plead guilty to the sexual assault of a teenage girl.

Wendt was charged in 2021 with a total of six felonies that included sexual assault of a child by someone who works with children, child pornography and exposing his genitals to a child. He was also charged with two misdemeanor counts of having sex with a child age 16 or older.

Had he been convicted of all charges, he could have spent the rest of his life in prison and paid up to $350,000 in fines.

Zachary Wendt, sexual assault, child pornography
Zachary Wendt will spend the next two years in prison for the sexual assault of a 16-year-old girl in 2021. – Credit: Racine County Jail

Instead, Wendt, 40, of Burlington, and his attorney, Mark Richards, reached a plea deal with the state. In exchange for pleading guilty to one Class H felony count of sexual assault of a child by a person who works with children, Wendt was sentenced Tuesday, Aug. 29, by Judge Timothy Boyle to two years in prison followed by three years of extended supervision.

Class H felonies under Wisconsin law carry a prison sentence of up to six years and/or up to $10,000 in fines. Wendt is scheduled for a restitution hearing on Oct. 10.

Sexual assault, child pornography charges filed after pursuing 16-year-old

According to the criminal complaint filed against him in December 2021, Wendt met a 16-year-old girl who was not his student and asked her out on a date. She told him how old she was, but he pursued her anyway.

In March 2021, he picked her up from her house and took her to his where he plied her with alcohol and then had sex with her, the complaint continues. They also exchanged explicit photos, which led to the child pornography charges.

Wendt was originally assigned a $500,000 cash bond and ordered to stay away from the girl and all minor children, including his own. Court records indicate his bond in January 2022 was reduced to $10,000 after he requested the modification so he could spend time with his children.

The court agreed to the lower amount and upheld the state’s request that Wendt not have unsupervised contact with any female minors, including his own children. Wendt posted bail and was released.

As part of his sentence, Wendt must register as a sex offender for the rest of his life and can only have contact with his children if his probation officer approves the request. He remains barred from contacting the student he assaulted or from having access to the internet unless approved.

Had Wendt not reached an agreement with the state, he was scheduled to go to trial on May 2, 2023. He officially filed his plea of one count of sexual assault on May 2, and the details of his sentence were recorded on Aug. 29.

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